Contact Tracing and Your Wedding

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (09/05/2020 - Updated 17/05/2020)
Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Legals
Roadmap to easing
                        restrictions - Step 1 Weddings
On 8 May, the Prime Minister announced a three-stage plan to progressively ease restrictions on gatherings, with individual states and territories responsible for implementing and rolling back restrictions for their own state and territories based on their local conditions. It is important, therefore, that you refer to the specifics as detailed in the Health Directives of the state in which you are getting married as restrictions and requirements can change at any time.
[This graphic is from the Federal Roadmap]

Stage One includes an increase in the number of people who can be present at a wedding. 
This means there can be 10 in addition to the couple and the celebrant. But it comes with an additional rule - a contact record for everyone present is now required for every gathering, including weddings, to facilitate contact tracing in case of someone present later developing COVID-19. Interpretation of both of these changes is up to each state, and there are some differences, so it is important to check the Health Directives for the state in which your wedding is being held.

What is contact tracing?


Contact tracing is a process by which any people (contacts) someone may have passed a serious infection on to are identified, diagnosed, and then treated to stop infections and diseases spreading further through the community. It isn't new. It has been around for a very long time for numbers of infectious diseases. What is new is that, with COVID-19, contact tracing measures are being put in place pro-actively and with legal onus on people other than the medical professionals who are currently required to report cases of certain diseases.

Can we just rely on the COVID SAFE app?

Simple answer, no, you can't, for the following reasons
  • If everyone complies with the social distancing rule of 1.5m, it won't work
  • There may be people present who have not downloaded and activated the app
  • Usual protocol/etiquette at weddings is to turn off phones, or turn on Airplane Mode, to avoid disturbing the ceremony
  • The app only keeps records for a couple of weeks, so there would be no contact records after this time
  • To be used to trace contacts the person diagnosed needs to give permission for the records to be accessed

Who must keep the contact record?

Initially it was not spelled out who would be required to collect and keep contact records for weddings. Some states have now done so.  Regardless, given that you, the marrying couple, are the ones hosting the wedding, and you are the ones who have engaged the various vendors who are providing services for your wedding, you will need to either take charge of the contact record yourselves, or provide information to whoever it is who is officially responsible for keeping the record. I will discuss this with you.

How should the contact record be collected?

This has not been specified. You could have a sign-in sheet, or use a guest book, but there are two issues with that
  • Unless everyone has brought their own pen, you've got a hygiene issue with multiple people touching the same pen.
  • Not everyone bothers to sign a guest book, and unless you've got someone stopping people and making them sign (in which case there may be difficulty maintaining the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule), you could have an incomplete record.
A simple and hygienic way to collect the data would be to
  • Keep a single list of everyone you invite - names, contact details - and everyone you hire
  • Check the list against RSVPs to make sure it is as up to date as possible for the day
  • If a videographer, photographer, or other service provider is going to bring an assistant, make sure you have full contact details of each individual who will be providing that service on the day, not just for the principal person/business owner you hired

I have developed a template that complies with the Queensland requirements.

As your celebrant, I will definitely be checking that you either have that list or have provided it to the person responsible for maintaining it, and that it is complete and accurate.  In Stage One, when weddings will have a maximum of 10 people present in addition to the two of you and me, your celebrant, it will be easy to check attendance against the list, and amend it if necessary. For practical reasons, we will need to nominate someone to be responsible for this.

Privacy and security of the contact list

In Queensland it has been specified that
  • The contact record must be kept for 28 days and then deleted/destroyed
  • The contact record must be provided to health authorities if and when requested
  • The contact record must not be used for any purpose other than coronavirus contact tracing

Other rules that still apply

All previous wedding and gathering public health and social distancing rules still apply
  • the minimum space allocation per person is still 4 square metres (the size of a king-size mattress)
  • everyone needs to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and the next person
  • hand hygiene (frequent hand washing/sanitising)
  • respiratory hygiene (good cough/sneeze hygiene)
  • frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection.

It is also strongly advised that weddings are held out of doors as enclosed spaces facilitate transmission of the virus.

In addition I suggest the following

  • You and your witnesses should all bring and use separate pens (black ballpoint). Pens are not easy to sanitise completely and trying to do so makes the whole process of signing quite awkward
  • Stand, rather than sit, to sign. That way it is easy for one person to step forward to sign, while the others remain at least 1.5 metres away, but can still see the act of signing.

More Information

Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                      can have the best ceremony ever
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